What is identity theft?
- Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information, such as your Social Security number, to commit a crime such as:
- Open new accounts
- Make purchases
- Get medical treatment on your health insurance
- Get a tax refund
- Give your name to the police in the event of an arrest
- The Federal Trade Commission reports that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
How can you protect your identity?
- Verify legitimacy before giving out personal information
- Make sure that someone is who they say they are before disclosing any of your personal information
- Most legitimate organizations will contact you by mail first before phoning or e-mailing you
- Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often
- Shred all documents containing personal and financial information
- Review your credit report at least once a year
- Be careful what you post on social media and other sites
- Make use of an identity theft protection service
- For a fee, these companies will monitor your financial accounts and personal information
What are some signs that your information may have been stolen?
- You find unfamiliar accounts on your credit report
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you didn’t make
- The IRS informs you that more than one tax return was filed under your name
- Debt collectors call about debts that are not yours
- You are denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition you don’t have
- You don’t get your bills or other mail
How can you recover from identity theft?
- If you notice any of these warning signs, go to IdentityTheft.gov for help guiding you through the next steps:
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report
- Report the identity theft to the FTC
- File a report with your local police department
- IdentityTheft.gov and your local police department will work with you to get your life, and your identity, back.